Best Exercises For Back Muscles

Best Back Workouts For Building Big Back Muscles
How To Strengthen Back Muscles - How To Do Back Exercises, When, How Many Sets And Reps

Majority of the gym-goers target for chest, arms, shoulders and abs muscle mass. So they lack thick, dense and well-balanced upper body. Developing a wide, thick back can tremendously improve the look of your physique. Actually, torso is the pivotal core of your body. It renders bulk of the support and strength you need to function through the day, no matter how small the movement may be.

We recommend that you keep one day in a week to workout for your back in order to develop stronger back muscles to provide strength and balance to your spine, protecting your body from injury when moving and lifting. With a stronger back you will be able to easily move your body through motions that require you to lift and move your own weight. Moreover, a stronger back is must if you want to handle heavier weights from a deadlift at floor level.

There are available a large number of back muscle exercises. Knowing which of the back workouts are best for building a wide, thick back will help you get the results faster. We have done research for you and have selected best back workouts for mass to attack your back with a dose of exercises targeting a number of back muscles.

Criterion For Selecting 9 Mass-Building Back Exercises

Whereas not much meaningful head-to-head exercise comparison research is available in this area, we have identified the following 9 workouts based on the available information, and other relevant factors like how difficult each exercise is, how much muscle each activates, and how distinctive each exercise is compared to others. We have also tried to suggest here where to fit in each place each exercise on your back muscles workout day.

Top Exercises For The Back Muscle Mass

Many of the exercises listed in our previous articles, incorporate some workouts for back muscles as well. Same way, some of the exercises listed here along with mainly targeting back muscles recruit other muscles too – so keep in mind that when you do workout to torch your back muscles you’ll also be working on muscles within the perimeters that might already be strained during previous exercises. So, you need to make your workout routine accordingly.

1. Barbell Deadlift: Deadlifts are technically more than back exercises as they recruit tremendous amount of muscles – virtually the entire posterior chain, all of the back muscles, abdominals, thighs and buttocks. It’s the absolute best for overall backside development and is considered as the best back thickness builder, providing great erector spinae stimulation.

Notably, lifting technique is the key with the deadlift, but once you learn it, you can gradually advance to lifting monster weights that will help you get titanic muscles and strengthen your bone structure

How To Do Deadlift?

(i) Put the bar on the floor and stand facing the barbell, keeping mid-foot under the bar, your feet shoulder width apart toes out 15°. Contract your abdominals, push your chest up keeping your back straight and bend your knees until you reach the bar. While keeping arms vertical and hanging just outside your legs, grab the bar using a pronated grip (thumbs facing each other) slightly wider than shoulder width – use the rings on the bar as a point of reference, to make sure that your grip is even. Remember that your grip should be tight, your abdominals and lower back contracted, chest lifted up and back straight. Fix your eyes on a point in front of you. This is your starting position.

(ii) Take a big breath. Start lifting the bar off the floor by straightening your legs and keeping the bar close to your body, while extending your back. Don’t shrug or lean back at the top. You’ve finished your Deadlift when you’ve locked your hip and knees.

(iii) Halt the movement once you’re stood perfectly upright. Make sure not to hyperextend your back – your shoulders and hips should be in a straight line.

(iv) Exhale and hold this position for 2 seconds while bringing your scapulae together for extra upper back stimulation.

(v) In a controlled manner, return the barbell to the floor by pushing your hips back first. Don’t bend your knees first. Bend your legs once the bar reaches your knees, flexing your back and bending your thighs. While doing so maintain correct posture – keeping head up, back straight, chest pushed up and abdominals contracted.

(vi) Rest for a second then do your next rep.

When To Do Deadlift And How Many Sets / Reps?

If you’re doing heavy (sets of fewer than about 6 reps), do deadlifts first so you’re fresh to perform with heavier weight. However, do some warm-up 3 to 4 sets of 10 repetitions with lighter weight first, and once warmed-up then attempt to do perform heavy 3 to 4 sets of 6-8 reps.

But, if you’re doing it for repetitions, you can do deadlifts later in your back workout routine.

Tip: Make sure not to bounce the weight off the floor, pull each rep from a dead stop.

2. Bent-Over Barbell Deadlift: Also known as Barbell row, this is yet another compound and brutal exercises for back development – in terms of sheer weight you can lift out of all rowing exercises – this of course is of great benefit when building mass. EMG research has found that bent-over barbell deadlift engages the larger muscle groups of the upper and lower back equally, making this an effective overall back builder number 2. Bonus point is the flexibility to vary angle between your torso and floor during the workout let you easily permit some extra cheated reps to step up the intensity.

Like the deadlift, technique here is of paramount importance, so you need to make sure that you maintain its proper form, but then it’s worth it as it will reward you with a ton of muscle.

How To Do Bent-Over Barbell Deadlift / Row?

(i) Slightly bend in your knees and lean forward by bending at the waist and forming a 45° between your torso and the floor. Hold a barbell with your hands slightly wider than shoulder width using a pronated grip (palms facing down). Ensure that you keep the head up looking in front of you, your back straight and chest pushed up. The barbell should be placed directly in front of you as your arms hang perpendicular to the floor. This is your starting position.

(ii) While keeping the torso stationary, breathe out and lift the barbell with your elbows (not with your biceps) along your thighs up to your navel (belly button). Keep the elbows close to the body and your biceps and forearms should only serve a purpose of holding on the weight – you should not contract them.

(iii) At the top contracted position, squeeze the back muscles by bringing your shoulder blades together and hold for 1 or 2 seconds.

(iv) Then while inhaling, slowly lower the barbell back to the starting position.

(v) Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

When To Do Bent-Over Barbell Deadlift / Row And How Many Sets / Reps

You can perform bent-over deadlifts toward the beginning of your back exercises routine for 3-4 heavy sets in lower rep ranges, about 6-8 or 8-10.

Tips:

(i) You can do this exercise using a supinated also (palms facing you) grip.

(ii) Don’t do this exercise if you are having back problems; instead we suggest you go for a Low Pulley row.

(iii) Be prudent while selecting the weight; in case of any doubt, use less weight rather than more.

(iv) If you’re exhausted after doing deadlifts, consider skipping this movement.

3. Wide-Grip Pull-Up: We recommend including an overhead pulling movement in your back routine, and the pull-up is one of the best. The wide-grip position concentrates on the back, especially the upper lats, by reducing resistance on the biceps and forearms.

How To Do Wide-Grip Pull-Up?

(i) Grab a pull-up bar with your palms facing away from your body, and your hands shoulder-width apart. Let your arms hang freely in a fully extended position. This is your starting position.

(ii) Pull yourself up by flexing the elbows and adducting the glenohumeral joint. Aim to get your chin above your hands. Make sure not to swing or use momentum to complete the movement. The upper torso should remain stationary as it moves through space and only the arms should move. The forearms should do no other work other than hold the bar. When you pull yourself up, cross your feet over one another to prevent swinging.

(iii) Pause at the top of your movement, then slowly lower yourself to the starting position.

When To Do Wide-Grip Pull-ups?

Good form is extremely important here, so you may do push pull-ups toward the front of your workout to ensure proper shoulder-joint positioning. Since the pull-up range of motion is fairly long, more of light reps make great warm-up moves for the shoulder joints and back muscles

Tip: In the starting position, the scapula should be retracted—pull your shoulder blades down and toward each other—before initiating the pull.

4. Wide-Grip Seated Cable Row: I have noticed that the majority of the gym-goers tend to do the close-grip bar on rows. If that is the case with you as well, we encourage you to try the wide-grip seated cable row. It strengthens the back, shoulders, and biceps while improving core stability and spinal alignment. Actually, the wide grip places increased resistance on the upper back and rear shoulder.

How To Do Wide-Grip Seated Cable Row?

(i) Sit down at a low pulley cable station and hold the straight-bar attachment, using overhand grip, with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Using your legs, push your torso back so that your arms are fully extended, knees slightly bent and you are supporting the weight. This is your starting position.

(ii) Keeping your back stationary and upright throughout the movement, pull the bar toward your waist and lift chest by arching back. Hold for 1 or 2 seconds.

(Iii) Return until arms are extended, back is straight, and shoulders are stretched forward.

(iv) Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

When To Do Wide-Grip Seated Cable Row And How Many Sets / Reps?

Like machine rows exercises for back, cables are best done toward the end of your workout. Select a weight that let you complete no more than about 12 reps. Go for 3 sets.

Tips:

(i) Do not lean forward, flex or bend the spine at any point during the exercise.

(ii) All of the movement should come from the shoulder blades and in the arms.

(iii) Do not push the head forward at the end of the movement – focus on completing the range of motion in the shoulder blades.

(iv) Wide rows imitate some back machines, so you don’t need to do both in your workout unless you make some other kinds of changes, like grip or target rep range.

5. Wide Grip Lat Pull-down: Pull-down exercises are an excellent width-builder,engaging primarily the latissimus dorsi and teres major. However, with few tweaks you can also recruit rhomboids and lower trapezius building extra back thickness.

How To Do Wide Grip Lat Pull-down?

(i) Sit down on a pull-down machine with a wide bar attached to the top pulley. Adjust the kneepads of the machine to fit your height so that the kneepads let you lock your thighs in a position; preventing your body from being lifted up by the weight of the stacks attached to the bar. Grab the bar with a pronated grip (thumbs facing each other) – hands placed at the desired distance. Note on grips: For a wide grip, your hands need to be spaced out at a distance wider than shoulder width. For a medium grip, your hands need to be spaced out at a distance equal to your shoulder width and for a close grip at a distance smaller than your shoulder width. Holding the bar, sit down in the seat and lock your thighs in place using kneepads. As you have both arms extended in front of you holding the bar at the desired grip width, tilt your torso back about 30 degrees or so while creating a curvature on your lower back and sticking your chest out. This is your starting position.

(ii) While breathing out, pull the bar down until it touches your upper chest by drawing the shoulders and the upper arms down and back. Note: Focus on squeezing the back muscles when you reach the full contracted position. Keeping your upper torso stationary, only move your arms with the forearms doing no other work except for holding the bar; therefore do not try to pull the bar down using the forearms.

(iii) Hold for a second at the contracted position squeezing your shoulder blades together, slowly raise the bar as you revert back to the starting position wherein your arms are fully extended and the lats are fully stretched. Inhale during this portion of the movement.

(iv) Repeat the movements for the desired number of repetitions.

When To Do Wide Grip Lat Pull-down And How Many Sets / Reps?

You can do this exercise to warm-up and isolate your lats by increasing the weight up for the progressive sets. Perform 4 sets for 15, 12, 10 and 8 repetitions: increasing weight on every set.

Tips:

(i) The bar can be pulled down either to upper chest or your neck. You can also attach different bars/handles to the pulley, which will recruit the muscles from different angles.

(ii) The seated lat pull down is an isolation exercise that trains the muscles in the mid and upper back.

6. Single Arm Dumbbell Row: This is a great unilateral exercise —where each side works independently of each other—that allows you to move a lot of weight over a greater range of motion as compared to barbell rows. This is also a perfect way to isolate and concentrate on each side of your back, as you rest one and work through the other. Your arm is the strongest in the neutral grip used in this exercise, allowing to workout with heavy weight while going easy on your shoulders.

How To Do Single Dumbbell Row?

(i) Start with the left arm row. Put a dumbbell on the left side of a flat bench. The bench will be used for a support. Place your right knee on the lower part of the bench, bend in the waist and place your right hand on the upper part of the bench. Position your torso close to parallel to the floor, keeping back straight and abdominals tight. Lower yourself down to grab the dumbbell using a neutral grip (thumbs facing up). With a slight bent in the elbow, raise yourself up to the previous position, without rounding your back. This is your starting position.

(ii) Pull the dumbbell up, concentrating on driving your elbow as far back as you can – The dumbbell should move in a straight line, close to your body and brushing against your hip at the top of the movement. Your torso should stay rigid throughout the movement.

(iii) Hold the dumbbell at the top for a second, concentrating on your back muscles.

(iv) Slowly lower the dumbbell down – back to the starting position. Go as down as you can without tilting your back to the side. Hold the stretch for a second. Do the desired number of repetitions with your left hand.

(v) Without having a break, repeat the exercise using the right arm (dumbbell on the right, left knee and arm on the bench). Do equal number of repetitions with your right hand.

(vi) That’s one set.

When To Do Single Dumbbell Row And How Many Sets / Reps?

You can do it anywhere from the middle to the end of your workout for 3-4 sets of 12-15.

7. Reverse Grip Bent-Over Row: Rowing is one of the most efficient and effective exercises that you can do for building your back muscles. Reverse grip bent over rows, also known as reverse barbell rows, let you to tuck your elbows in close to your body so that your joints remain free from injury and move heavy weights to help trigger muscle growth. Just like conventional barbell rows, this exercise engages compound multiple muscles in the arms and back along with the rear deltoids. Reverse-grip movements ensures – The biceps play a key role, and with the elbows pulling back close to your sides, the focus becomes the lower portion of the lats. In nutshell its movement strengthens your back, which acts as a platform for enabling you to work your other muscles even harder as you have the necessary stability.

How To Do Reverse Grip Bent-Over Row?

(i) Stand erect while holding a barbell with a supinated grip (palms facing up) with your hands about shoulder width apart. While bending your knees slightly, bend forward at your waist so that your chest is leaning forward over your feet – keeping your back straight and almost parallel to the floor. Make sure that you keep your head up. Keep your knees bent and your feet just beyond shoulder width apart. The barbell should hang directly in front of you as your arms are fully extended and hanging perpendicular to the floor and your torso. This is your starting position.

(ii) While keeping the torso stationary, lift or “row” the barbell up close to your stomach area as you breathe out, keeping the elbows close to the body and not applying any force with your forearm other than holding the weights. On the top contracted position, squeeze the back muscles and hold for a second.

(iii) Return the barbell slowly back down to the starting position as you inhale.

(iv) Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

When To Do Reverse Grip Bent-Over Row And How Many Sets And Reps?

I usually do toward end of my back exercise routine. When using an underhand grip (palms facing out) as with the reverse grip rows, you can start with 3 sets of 10-12 repetitions. Vary this setup, if you wish, with regard to your goals and the weight being used.

Tips:

(i) Be sure to keep your head up because (keeping your head down also minimizes the efficiency of the workout), back flat and your shoulders back throughout this exercise to keep your back in a secure and stable position.

(ii) If you have back issues, avoid this exercise. A Low Pulley Row is a better choice for people with back problems.(iii) Also, as in case of bent knee dead-lift, refrain from slouching forward or bending your back while performing this exercise, which can result in injury.

(iii) Only use weights that you can handle at all times. Avoid working with weights with which you are not comfortable with and which do not allow you to maintain the correct form and technique.

(iv) Do not push your elbows away from your torso and always keep them close to your body.

(v) Avoid jerky movements and speedily lowering the barbell up and down during your sets. Always keep the movements slow and controlled repetitions.

8. Close Grip Pull-Down: The close grip pull-down is similar in appearance to the chin-up. As against chin-up close grip pull-down has double advantage. To the beginners, they can use weights that are less than their bodyweight, and to the advanced trainers – they can use more than their bodyweight. EMG studies show that use of a close neutral grip engages the lats similarly to a regular grip, so you’re not missing out on any muscle fibers. A closer grip allows a longer range of motion, so enhanced time under tension for the lats, which is good for gaining muscle.

How To Do Close Grip Pull-Down?

(i) Sit down on a pull-down machine with a wide bar attached to the top pulley. Adjust the kneepads of the machine according to your height so that the kneepads let you lock your thighs in a position. These pads will prevent your body from being raised by the resistance attached to the bar. Grab the bar with a slightly less than shoulder-width, underhand grip (palms facing you) on the bar. As you have both arms extended straight over your head bring your torso back around 30 degrees or so while creating a curvature on your lower back (arching your lower back slightly) and sticking your chest out. This is your starting position.

(ii) While breathing out, pull the bar down until it touches your upper chest by drawing the shoulders and the upper arms down and back. Note: Focus on squeezing the back muscles when you reach the full contracted position. Keeping your upper torso stationary, only move your arms with the forearms doing no other work except for holding the bar; therefore do not try to pull the bar down using the forearms.

(iii) Hold for a second at the contracted position squeezing your shoulder blades together, and then slowly raise the bar as you revert back to the starting position wherein your arms are fully extended and the lats are fully stretched. Inhale during this portion of the movement.

(iv) Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

When To Do Close Grip Pull And How Many Sets And Reps?

You can use this exercise as a good warm-up move for your shoulders or you may place it toward the end of your shoulders for 3-4 sets of 12-15 reps

Tip: Keep tempo of the movements slow, squeezing hard at the bottom of each rep, and allowing a good stretch at the top.

9. Standing T-Bar Row: It’s a compound exercise so is very effective for increasing strength and size of your whole back. Biceps are also well engaged here as in any other pulling exercise. Unlike squats, you need here to keep your legs locked in a bent angle throughout. You also have choice of hand positions and width. Whereas a wider grip will put more focus on the lats, a neutral grip will better emphasize on the middle back (rhomboids, teres, and traps).

Pull-ups and Pull-downs will make your lats wider, but if you want a thick, densely muscled back, you should do rows too. The T-bar row lets you use a neutral grip—palms facing each other—which is the biomechanically strongest position to pull from, so T-bar has an advantage over the rows. Also as you can use both hands, so you can load more weight, and that makes the T-bar a better exercise dumbbell rows, too. The only glitch is that many gyms don’t have a T-bar row station, but we’ve got a perfect way out for that – what you need is a barbell and a corner!!

How To Do Standing T-Bar Row?

(i) Place the end of an empty barbell into a landmine or corner of a room to keep it from moving. Load plates of desired weight onto your end. Stand over the bar (keeping it between your legs), and position a Double D row handle around the bar or hook a V-grip handle (the kind you see at a cable station) under the bar next to the collar and hold the bar with both ends using the Double D row or V-grip handle. Tip: You can just grasp the bar without using any handle. Using your hips and legs, rise to a standing position. Bend over at the hips until your torso is about a 45-degree angle to the floor with your chest up and arms extended. This is your starting position.

(ii) Keeping your lower back in its natural arch, retract your shoulder blades together and while flexing your elbows pull the bar until the plates touch your chest (or you can pull the bar to your upper abdomen for variation sake). Do not jerk the weight or cheat during the movement.

(iii) After a brief pause, return to the starting position.

(iv) Repeat for desired number of repetitions.

When To Do Standing T-Bar Row And How Many Sets / Reps?

Do this toward the front half of your workout or pair with a chest exercise like the bench press. You can do 3-6 sets of 5-10 reps.

Tip: During the movement, concentrate on the stretch and contraction of the back.

If you favorite best back workout is missing from our list, please don’t hesitate to share with us your thoughts any other recommendations under the comments section below.

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